Ready for vacation? Common pitfalls to avoid before you go

Taking a little time now can save you thousands of dollars later

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The summer travel season is in full swing, but your time away will be stress-free with a little planning and prevention.

Debra Whitmore with Destinations by Debra said if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. She urges caution when booking a trip, reading reviews and making sure accommodations are safe.

Whitmore advises carrying small amounts of cash and don’t keep it all in one place. Cross-body purses are recommended to keep possessions in view, and men should carry wallets in their front pocket.

Another safety tip is to not draw attention. Don’t wear clothing that would make it obvious you are out of town.

“I think it’s important when traveling to blend in with the locals as much as we can. Leave your really flashy jewelry at home and try to avoid wearing clothing with logos,” Whitmore said.

International travelers should check passports before booking a trip. Many countries require that three to six months are left on passports at the time of travel.

Keep a copy of your passport at all times when traveling abroad. You won’t be able to travel with a copy, but it could help with replacement process.

“There is a program called STEP (Smart Travelers Enrollment Program) that is for U.S. citizens to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. It will give them help if they are in a destination and there is an emergency,” Whitmore said.

TRAVELER’S CHECKLIST

Travel insurance is also a good way to have piece of mind for unexpected delays or cancellations. It can also provide some medical coverage when traveling.

While you are planning your trip, also plan for how you will maintain security at your home. Burglars take advantage of summer travelers and breakins increase during summer months.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, July and August have the highest rates of residential burglaries. Almost two million burglaries are reported each year in the United States.

Sargent Jim Conrad with the Canfield Police Department said common sense planning will ensure that you come home to your house just the way you left it.

“Stop your mail, put your lights on timers, have a neighbor park their car in your driveway. Little things like that let people know that someone may be present,” Conrad said.

Conrad also cautions about what you post online. Don’t let burglars know you are out of town by your social media activity. That means not posting pictures of your vacation until you are back home.

“If you really want to share your vacation with family and friends, text them or email them directly,” Conrad said.

When burglar-proofing your home, check locks your doors, windows, set a security alarm if you have one, and do your best to make the house look inhabited. Disconnect computers so hackers won’t be able to get to your devices and remember to remove your hidden spare key.

Most police departments will check on your house if you let them know when you will be gone.

“You have to contact your local police department. In Canfield, we do take resident checks from our citizens. They call in right before they leave and all of our patrol officers will check the house multiple times a day,” Conrad said.

Burglary facts and figures (courtesy Safewise.com):

  • Most burglaries happened between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • The majority of break-ins are committed by burglars who live nearby
  • Almost 30 percent of burglars enter through doors or windows
  • Most criminals can burglarize a home in less than 10 minutes
  • Burglars usually go to the master bedroom first
  • The average property dollar loss per burglary is about $2,250